On Friday, at the beginning of his historic visit to Iraq, Pope Francis called for an end to “violence, extremism, partisanship and intolerance”, stressing the need to “confront the scourge of corruption” and “strengthen institutions”, and said, “Weapons remain silent!” Let us put an end to its spread here and everywhere! And let the special interests cease, the external interests that do not concern the local population. Let us listen to those who build and make peace! ”Stressing the need for the international community to play a decisive role in promoting peace in Iraq and the Middle East.
The Pope said at the Presidential Palace in Baghdad, where he was received by President Barham Salih, “I am grateful for the opportunity to make this long-awaited apostolic visit,” adding, “I am grateful that I have been able to come to him. Through our father Abraham and many of the prophets, with the history of salvation and major religious traditions ». He added, “Stop violence, extremism, partisanship, and intolerance! Let us give the space to all citizens who want to build together with this country, in dialogue, and in a frank, sincere and constructive confrontation.
The suffering of the Yazidis
He paused when Iraq tried in recent years to “lay the foundations for a democratic society,” stressing that for this, “it is necessary to ensure the participation of all basic political, social and religious groups, and that we are all citizens. No one should be considered a second-class citizen. ”
Pope Francis also stopped at the suffering of the Yazidis, the minority that during the control of ISIS over large parts of Iraq was subjected to great persecution, saying, “I can only mention the Yazidis, the innocent victims of reckless and inhuman barbarism.” “They have been subjected to persecution and murder because of their religious affiliation, and their identity and their very survival have been compromised,” he added. “The growing challenges invite the entire human family to cooperate on a global scale to confront economic inequality,” the Pope said. He added, “The international community must play a decisive role in promoting peace in Iraq and the entire Middle East. I came to Iraq as a pilgrim and I extend my gratitude to the dear Iraqi people.” The Pope renewed his assertion that he comes “as a penitent, asking forgiveness from heaven and from brothers, for the great devastation and cruelty of mankind,” and “a pilgrim who brings peace.”
On the other hand, the Pope called for “confronting the scourge of corruption” and “abuse of power and everything that is illegal.” “But that is not enough,” he said. “At the same time, justice should be achieved, integrity and transparency developed, and the institutions responsible for that should be strengthened,” he said, more than a year after tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to protest against the corrupt political class at the end of 2019.
Yesterday, Iraqi President Barham Salih welcomed Pope Francis as a “dear and gracious guest” in Iraq. Saleh said during his reception at the presidential palace, “While the Pope is a dear and gracious guest between us,” there is a “historic opportunity to make it an occasion to reaffirm the values of love, peace, coexistence and support for religious and social diversity,” describing this as “human values that resonate with the whole world.” . He stressed that “Iraq deserves the best, and the Iraqis cannot accept that terrorism and extremism be practiced in the name of religion.” Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi, who received the Pope at the airport, tweeted on Twitter, “Iraq receives the people and government of His Holiness Pope Francis, to confirm the depth of the human bonds that were and are and will remain the countries of the two rivers, which will remain their historical meeting place for common religions, ideas and human values”
Visit Najaf and Ur
For the first time in history, a head of the Catholic Church will visit the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq, where he meets today, Saturday, the religious authority, Ali al-Sistani, who is 90 years old. The Pope will participate in Ur, the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), which is located in the remote south, in a prayer that will include Shiite, Sunni, Yazidi and Sabian clerics. Later yesterday, Pope Francis went from the Our Lady of Deliverance Cathedral in Baghdad, which was targeted in 2010 with a hostage-taking operation that ended with the killing of 53 people, to the Christians, saying, “Today we meet in this Sayidat al-Najat cathedral, and we bless it with the blood of our brothers and sisters who paid Here is a dear price for their faithfulness to the Lord. ” The Pope met with bishops, priests, monks, nuns, catechists, and lay officials of the Church.